Grauerholz, James

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Male. Education: Attended University of Kansas.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Grove Press, 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4704.


Author and editor.


(Editor of script corrections) William S. Burroughs, Letters to Allen Ginsberg, 1953-1957, Am Here Books (Geneva, Switzerland), 1978.

(Editor) William S. Burroughs, Interzone, Viking (New York, NY), 1989.

(Author of text) William S. Burroughs, William S. Burroughs: Paintings (exhibition catalog), Galerie Carzaniga/Ueker (Basel, Switzerland), 1989.

(With Jorge García-Robles) La bala perdida: William S. Burroughs en México, Ediciones del Milenio (Mexico), 1995.

(Editor, with Ira Silverberg) William S. Burroughs, Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader, introduction by Ann Douglas, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor and author of introduction) William S. Burroughs, Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs, November 1996-July 1997, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Barry Miles) William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2001.


James Grauerholz was a close confidante and companion of counterculture Beat author William S. Burroughs from 1974 until Burroughs' death from heart failure in 1997. His personal experiences with the literary icon of the Beat movement of the 1950s have made him uniquely qualified to serve as the editor of a number of Burroughs' books, including the author's most famous novel, Naked Lunch, and a collection of Burroughs' final thoughts, published as Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs, November 1996-July 1997. The author of Queer, Junky, and The Adding Machine, among other books, Burroughs was a close friend to literary fellows Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and Jack Kerouac; he was known for his lifelong use of drugs and, even more infamously, for accidentally shooting his wife to death while playing a lethal game of William Tell. In his final years, Burroughs' loathing for his fellow man mellowed, though his nonconformist attitude remained intact.

Last Words restates many of Burroughs' lifelong convictions about what is wrong with the American establishment, his thoughts about drug use, and his concern about such developments as nuclear arsenals. "Last Words therefore gives us a poignant coda to Burroughs's career and brief meditations that shed much light on his earlier fiction," according to David Seed in Review of Contemporary Fiction. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated that the book's "nature will make it precious to … devotees; its patches of wit and pathos … may not be enough to endear it to other readers." However, Perry Meisel, writing in the New York Times Book Review, felt that Last Words "presents fresh clues to the larger design of [Burroughs'] imagination, and a means of gaining a renewed perspective on his work."

Those wishing to have a more extensive survey of Burroughs' ideas can peruse a sampling in Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader, which Grauerholz coedited. Passages from such books as Queer, The Soft Machine, Nova Express, Interzone, and The Ticket That Exploded can be found here, as well as commentary from the author himself on these stories. Thom Nickels, writing in Lambda Book Report, felt that the editing reveals that "Grauerholz possesses a comprehensive understanding of Burroughs' gifts—his role as social prophet and visionary." A Publishers Weekly critic attested that "what may prove most valuable to readers is the inclusion of Burroughs's commentary on his aims and intent."



Lambda Book Report, April, 1999, Thom Nickels, review of Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader, p. 24.

New York Times Book Review, February 13, 2000, Perry Meisel, "The Definitive Hipster," p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, November 16, 1998, review of Word Virus, p. 54; January 10, 2000, review of Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs, November 1996-July 1997, p. 53.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 2000, David Seed, review of Last Words, p. 146.


Naropa University Web site, (July 12, 2004), James Grauerholz, "On Burroughs and Dharma."

University of Kansas Web site, (July 12, 2004), George Laughead, Jr., "Beats in Kansas: Shooting Joan Burroughs."*